The €50 million redevelopment of the 1960s Phibsborough shopping centre, frequently cited as one of the ugliest buildings in Dublin, has been granted permission by An Bord Pleanála.
The scheme involves the construction of apartments for 341 students in blocks ranging up to seven storeys, as well as a three-fold increase in retail space, but does not include the demolition of the eight-storey concrete tower.
The new centre, which will encompass part of the old grounds of Dalymount Park football stadium, will involve an “upgrading” of the existing tower block instead of its demolition.
The developers Derek Poppinga and Peter Leonard could not level the tower, because they do not own two of the businesses underneath it, a Tesco supermarket and an Eddie Rockets restaurant. These, and a Tesco off-licence further down the block, will not be redeveloped under the plans.
The tower will instead be clad with “expanded metal mesh” and existing roof-top antennae will be screened with the same material. Local residents who appealed the plans to An Bord Pleanála described the cladding as “hideous ” and “a gaudy cage-like structure”.
The board’s senior planning inspector John Desmond said he considered the mesh cladding “unnecessary and undesirable” and recommended it be omitted. However the board has approved the development including the cladding. Apart from the eight-storey tower, most of the existing shopping centre is a one-storey strip mall, topped with car parking. The developers plan to build up the site with heights ranging from three to seven storeys, including new shops, offices, restaurants and student accommodation.
The student apartments will be in two blocks in four to six storeys, and will partly “overhang” this existing strip of shops facing on to Phibsborough Road.
A new civic space linking Phibsborough Road to the North Circular Road with access to Dalymount Park will also be created as part of the development.
The grant of permission marks a turning point in the long-running saga of the redevelopment of Phibsborough village.
A 2008 Dublin City Council plan proposed combining the shopping centre and stadium sites to create a new “village centre” for the largely Victorian suburb. Bohemians football club had at the time planned to sell Dalymount and move to a green-field site close to Dublin Airport. However, the plan collapsed when the economy crashed, and the club got into severe financial difficulties.
The council bought Dalymount in 2015 from Bohemians football club for €3.8 million. It plans to build a new stadium and have Bohemians and Shelbourne FC as its tenants.
The shopping centre, which had been in the control of Nama, was bought in 2016 for approximately €17 million.